Sunday, 30 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, on the Sunday after the Pentecost we celebrate the occasion of Trinity Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, celebrating one of the greatest mysteries of our Christian faith and one of its key and core tenets, that is our belief in the one and only True God, that is One and only One, and existing in a Godhood of Three distinct yet united Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is what makes us distinct from other monotheistic Abrahamic beliefs, that we believe that the true nature of God is indeed, as revealed fully by the Lord Himself, is that of the Holy Trinity.

Many of us may not even know fully what the Holy Trinity is all about, and we do not appreciate this unique relationship between the Three Divine Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is truly something that the members of the Early Church took decades and even centuries to understand better, which historically brought about many heresies and divisions just because some among the faithful and the leaders of the Church believed in a different nature of God, either in denying the divinity of the Son or the Holy Spirit, or in denying the distinct identity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, or in denying the existence of the Holy Trinity altogether.

Through the earliest Ecumenical Councils of the Church, those heresies had been addressed and outlawed, and the authentic teachings of the Lord and His truth were preserved as it was from the days of the Apostles. Thus, defeated were the heresy of Arianism that denied the equality of the Father and the Son, that upheld the view of the Son being merely the firstborn of Creation and as a created Being rather than Co-Eternal and Co-Equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit from the beginning of time, as the Church has preserved in truth.

Then, through the faith and perseverance of the saints and the faithful Church fathers, were defeated the heresies of Nestorianism with their belief that the Lord has two distinct and separate natures in the Son, that the Divinity and the Humanity of the Son were separate and distinct, or the other extreme of Monophysitism believing that the Son has only one nature, rather than the truth which is that in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the two distinct natures of Divine and Man were united perfectly and inseparably through the bond of love.

All these showed us just how many among the faithful did not fully understand the tenets and the teachings of the Christian faith, particularly that regarding the nature of God and the Holy Trinity. That is why those divisions happened and threatened to destroy the Church and the faithful had it not been for the great efforts and perseverance from all those who had remained faithful and true to the teachings of the Lord and His Apostles, and defending the belief and truth of the Most Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God.

How do we then understand the Holy Trinity better, brothers and sisters in Christ? There are in fact many ways that we can use to appreciate better the nature of the Most Holy Trinity, in a more understandable and appreciable way. For example, St. Patrick, the famous missionary and Patron Saint of Ireland was remembered for his symbol of the shamrock, or a three-leaf clover that he used in order to explain the nature of God in the Holy Trinity to the pagans throughout Ireland, that they might come to understand Him better.

The symbolism of the shamrock is one of the ways that we can understand the nature of the Holy Trinity. For if one of the three leaves of the shamrock is taken away, then it is no longer the shamrocks as it is, incomplete and no longer can be properly called a shamrock. Each of the three leaves of the shamrock are also connected to each other and not distinct from each other while at the same time, each of the three leaves can be distinguished clearly from each other. They are therefore representative of the Holy Trinity, Three Divine Persons, but one Godhead, and one God in perfect unity, all Three distinct yet inseparable.

We can also use the example of the burning flame as a way to represent the Holy Trinity in a more understandable way. The burning flame produces heat, which many people for a long time had been using as a way to fend off cold and keep themselves warm. They also provide light to the place and dispel the darkness, so that we can see even in the darkest of nights and in places without any illumination. This light is produced as a result of the reaction between the particles involved in the burning, and lastly, the flame itself, which has a discernible shape, because it is in fact heated air and matter, that when heated produce that hue and shape of the flame.

If any of these properties and parts of the burning flame are missing or are taken out, then it will no longer be a burning flame. For example, if a burning flame were to lose its heat then we can definitely say that it is not a flame, no? For which flame that can be seen and yet does not give any heat, or burn us when we get too close? And if there is no light in the flame that will also be impossible, as any reactions that produce heat in the burning process will also generate light. And if we feel the heat and can see the light but cannot see the shape of the flame, it is also not a flame right?

Therefore, using these analogies and metaphors, comparisons and otherwise we can see that there are actually quite a few ways and observations we see on things around us that can show us briefly a glimpse of what the Holy Trinity is all about. The Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit shows us that while we can see the distinctive Three Divine Persons, manifesting Themselves in different ways, but They are all together, constituting the same, inseparable unity of the One and only God, the Creator of all.

At the moment of Creation, we can see all the Three Divine Persons at work, as God the Father willed Creation and the entire Universe into being, while God the Son, the Divine Word of God, is the Word by which Creation came to be, through words like ‘Let there be light’ and others. And lastly, God the Holy Spirit existed since before Creation and time, as represented in the accounts of the Book of Genesis as floating above the nothingness before Creation, present everywhere and in all things.

And when God created man, He said that, ‘Let Us create man in Our image’, in a clear and obvious representation that while God is One, but He also exists in a Trinity, inseparable unity between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, when this ‘Us’ and ‘Our’ pronouns were used to describe God in this occasion. Then, when the Lord was baptised by St. John the Baptist at the Jordan, again we see the Holy Trinity in action, in Their three distinct Persons, the Father’s Voice speaking from Heaven, the Son, Jesus Christ, in the water being baptised, while the Holy Spirit, descending down to the world from the Father and to the Son, in the form of a Dove.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have listened and discussed today regarding the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all of us are now then called to remember our mission and calling as Christians to be the bearers of the truth of God, including the mystery of His Holy Trinity to all the peoples of all the nations, revealing this truth we ourselves have received from the Lord and passing the truth to more and more people that they too may come to believe in God.

The Lord has commanded all of us to go forth and baptise all the peoples of all the nations, in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, sealing them in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, believing in the same one God Who exists in the Triune unity of Three Divine Persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. This is our faith and this is what we believe in, and brothers and sisters, we have to stand fast by what our faith is about. We must deepen our understanding of the Christian faith, the nature of the Holy Trinity and other truth we have received through the Church.

Now, let us all therefore dedicate ourselves to the Lord anew this Sunday as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Through our common baptism, let us all proclaim our Lord, the One and only True God of all, as the One God, with Three Divine Persons, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, that all may come to know Him, through His love and through our knowledge of the truth, which we bear in our own lives from now on, if we have not done so yet.

Let us all be faithful and committed Christians through our lives, in our every actions and deeds, so that in everything that we say and do, we will show our Christian faith and truth to all, and everyone who sees us, hears us, and witnesses our actions and deeds, interacting and working with us, all may come to know that we belong to the Lord, and that hopefully they may also be touched by the Lord’s presence through us, and come to believe in Him as well.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we may always be firm in our faith and be genuine in living our lives daily with faith, from now on. May God, the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bless us all in our every efforts, good works and endeavours, and be our Guide at all times. Amen.

Sunday, 30 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 28 : 16-20

At that time, as for the eleven disciples, they went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Jesus, they bowed before Him, although some doubted.

Then Jesus approached them and said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptise them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always even to the end of the world.”

Sunday, 30 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 8 : 14-17

All those who walk in the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. Then, no more fear : you did not receive a spirit of slavery, but the spirit that makes you sons and daughters, and every time, we cry, “Abba! (this means Dad!) Father!” the Spirit assures our spirit, that we are sons and daughters of God.

If we are children, we are heirs, too. Ours will be the inheritance of God, and we will share it with Christ; for, if we now suffer with Him, we will also share glory with Him.

Sunday, 30 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 4-5, 6 and 9, 18-19, 20 and 22

For upright is YHVH’s word and worthy of trust in His work. YHVH loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

The heavens were created by His word, the breath of His mouth formed their starry host. For He spoke and so it was, He commanded, and everything stood firm.

But YHVH’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving kindness; to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. O YHVH, let Your love rest upon us, even as our hope rests in You.

Sunday, 30 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 4 : 32-34, 39-40

Ask of the times past. Inquire from the day when God created man on earth. Ask from one end of the world to the other : Has there ever been anything as extraordinary as this? Has anything like this been heard of before? Has there ever been a people who remained alive after hearing as you did the voice of the living God from the midst of the fire?

Never has there been a God Who went out to look for a people and take them out from among the other nations by the strength of trials and signs, by wonders and by war, with a firm hand and an outstretched arm. Never has there been any deed as tremendous as those done for you by YHVH in Egypt, which you saw with your own eyes.

Therefore, try to be convinced that YHVH is the only God of heaven and earth, and that there is no other. Observe the laws and the commandments that I command you today, and everything will be well with you and your children after you. So you will live long in the land which YHVH, your God, gives you forever.

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, one week after the Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, or also known as the Trinity Sunday. On this day we celebrate this very important and crucial aspect of the Christian faith, one that distinguishes itself from all the other Abrahamic and monotheistic faith, because we believe in the One and only True God, Who manifested Himself in Three Divine Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Since the very beginning of the Church, that is from the time of the Apostles, the Church had always believed in the Most Holy Trinity, through the truth that the Lord Himself had revealed to them, from the Father Who revealed to all and created all, and the Son, Who has descended into this world and revealed Himself in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, Whom the disciples had lived with, spoken with and interacted with, having seen His suffering and death on the Cross, and then His Resurrection and glorious Ascension into Heaven, and finally, the Holy Spirit Who came down upon them all on Pentecost.

The Church has always believed in the One and only True God in the Three Divine Persons, but for centuries, Church leaders and theologians debated and discussed the details of what this truly mean for the Lord Whom they all served. Unfortunately, there had been quite a view dissenting voices and ideas that came up from these disagreements over the nature of the Holy Trinity, which saw some rejecting the Holy Trinity altogether, or known as Unitarianism, a heresy that existed in different forms even to this very day.

Then there were also those like the Arians, who argued that the relationship between the members of the Most Holy Trinity is an unequal one, with the Father being superior over the Son, and the Son being subservient to the Father, as the Arians believed that the Son did not exist together with the Father from the very beginning, but rather, was merely the first to be created by the Father, and therefore, is inferior in nature to the Father. All of these false teachings came about from misunderstanding in the words of the Scripture which the Arians claimed as support for their argument, without understanding the whole truth.

Then there were also those who claimed that the Holy Spirit was also inferior, or was merely an ‘energy’ and not a Divine Person, essentially limiting the Persona into the duality of the Father and the Son. All of these were also rejected by the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, which prevailed over the heresies mentioned, and the Church fathers, after an often bitter and long struggle, managed to defend the true, orthodox and genuine Christian faith as we have it today, the faith of the Apostles themselves.

St. Athanasius the Great, the Patriarch of Alexandria in the fourth century in particular was renowned for his steadfast defence of the true faith against the encroachment of heresies, especially that of Arianism, which at that time were especially prevalent and had many support from many among the clergy, even many among the bishops. But the impassioned defence of the true faith from the faithful bishops and priests, led by St. Athanasius helped to turn the tide of battle against the heretical ideas.

St. Athanasius himself encountered plenty of difficulties and challenges throughout his ministry, having to go into exile a few times and facing opposition not only from the rebellious and heretical bishops and priests in his See and beyond, but even from the secular nobility, the powerful and at times, even the Emperors at Constantinople themselves. Yet, he remained resolute and firm, dedicated and faithful in his struggle to keep the truth and orthodoxy in the Christian faith, writing one of his famous contributions to the Church, the Athanasian Creed, in full support of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Although some argued that he was not the actual author of the Creed, but the ideas contained within the Creed speak volumes of the ideas of St. Athanasius, which is why he was credited with the origin of this venerable Creed.

I am sure all of us are familiar with the Nicene or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, as well as the Apostles’ Creed. Yet, definitely there are only a few of us who may be aware of what the Athanasian Creed is, less still being able to recite it with faith. For this Athanasian Creed itself is much longer and a lot more detailed even compared to the Nicene Creed, containing the basic essence of the Creed, but with special and really particular emphasis on the Trinitarian nature of our Christian faith, stressing and emphasising the relationship between each members of the Holy Trinity to each other.

As the Athanasian Creed has it, the Holy Trinity is described as, ‘And the Catholic faith is this: that we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence.’ And this part emphasises how there is only One God, and yet, the same One God exists in the form of Trinity of Unity, where each of the members of the Holy Trinity are distinct from one another, but yet equal to each other, and are perfectly united in Essence that they are at the same time, indivisible, for removing even one will diminish that Oneness of God.

And then it continues with ‘For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all One; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.’ And this part show us yet again the Unity between the Three Divine Persons of the Most Holy Trinity, which are also at the same time, easily distinguished one from the other without confusion, each with equal Glory and Majesty, and all Co-Eternal with each other, from before the beginning of time, through all time, to the end of time and forevermore.

The Creed keeps on going, repeating several times with very strong and firm affirmation that each of the members of the Holy Trinity are the same One God, equally God, none superior or inferior over the other, ‘the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God’ and ‘And yet They are not three Gods but One God’. And the relationship between each of the members of the Holy Trinity is explained clearly in that same Creed, as the Son is begotten by the Father, not created and co-eternal with Him, showing how the Son already existed from the very beginning, and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father through the Son.

That last portion regarding the Holy Spirit had also divided Christianity even until this very day, as our brethren in the Orthodox Communion refused to accept the fact of this ‘proceeding’ of the Holy Spirit through the Son from the Father. This they argued because of the misunderstanding in the language and the fine differences in the literary understanding of the word ‘proceeding’. Historically, in the Greek language, the word ‘proceeding’ showed a clear subordinate relationship between the one that proceeded to the one it is proceeding from. Yet, no such subordination existed in the Latin language.

Thus, we, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has always believed in the Holy Spirit that came to us from the Father, and proceeded through the Son, Jesus Christ, all being co-equal and co-eternal with each other, none being subordinate or superior over the other, the Holy Spirit merely passed through the Son to us, in the same manner the Lord Jesus breathed over His disciples and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, whomever sins you forgive, they are forgiven, and whomever sins you retain, they are retained.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, such was the deep mystery and detail in the very nature of our God, One and yet existing in Three Divine Persons, distinct, co-equal and co-eternal with each other, that there had been many misunderstandings both from within the Church itself, and from those who were outside the Church. There had been many who mistakenly accused Christians as polytheists and worshipping three Gods instead of One, but this is because they did not understand what it means by the Holy Trinity. How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we ourselves understood the meaning and importance of the Most Holy Trinity?

One way to understand the concept of the Holy Trinity, its presence of three easily distinguishable aspects and yet unquestionable unity is by using the example of a burning flame. A burning flame has three important aspects that can be easily distinguished, namely the appearance and state of the flame itself, and then the heat generated by the flame, and finally the light given out by the flame. For all of us, I am sure we know that while each of these stimulates different parts of our senses, but we know that we cannot separate each aspect of the flame from the other.

What does this mean? It means that, if we remove the light of the flame, then we can no longer recognise the flame as it is. Similarly, if we see a flame and we can see its shape and the state of the flame, and yet feel no heat, it is no longer a flame as we know it. And then, if we can feel the state of the flame, that is because of the excited particles of the air heated up and filled with energy, and feel its heat, and yet, if the flame emits no light, then how can we believe that it is flame and not something else?

Another good example to compare this concept of the Holy Trinity, is that of honey, as honey is the product of bees collecting the various flowers’ nectar, which they mixed with their own secretions to create the ever-healthy and good honey, provided that it is naturally obtained and produced. In natural honey, we know that it is honey when we touch it, feel its viscosity and particular texture, and then taste its sweetness and unique, floral taste, and finally, smell its similarly floral and nice, unique smell. Each of these aspects help us to identify that this substance is honey and not something different.

Imagine if we have what is allegedly natural honey, and yet, when we touch, it feels so diluted and runny, so as to look like merely water? Will we believe if people told us that this is natural honey? Certainly not. Similarly, if we have what is allegedly natural honey, correct by feel and touch, having the right viscosity, and yet, tastes very differently or even taste horrible? And honey can also be fermented into alcohol under the right condition, and in that case, it is no longer honey, but mead! Lastly, in a similar way, if we have what is allegedly natural honey, and yet it smells very different, although it feels like honey and tastes like honey, then it is not honey.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, using these examples of the flame and honey, we can see how the concept of the Holy Trinity is not as difficult as it may seem to us to understand. Of course, being one of the most profound mysteries out there, there are still a lot about the Holy Trinity that we may not fully understand, but at least, a basic understanding of its concept is very important for us all as Christians to have strong and genuine faith in God. And often, it does not need to be very complicated and difficult to do so.

Historically, St. Patrick was also well-known for using the iconic three-leaf clover as the symbol of the Holy Trinity, teaching the concept to the pagans there about God, One in Unity and yet existing in Three Divine Persons. The united nature of the three-leaf clover’s three leaves makes it such that separating one of the leaf from the three-leaf clover makes it no longer a three-leaf clover, much like taking out the heat of the flame no longer make it recognisable as flame, or removing the taste from honey which makes it no longer recognisable as honey.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this Trinity Sunday, let us all carefully study and understand the basics of the concept of the Holy Trinity, that we may understand and appreciate better what our Christian faith is all about, and Who our God truly is. Let us all renew our faith and conviction in serving Him, loving Him and when possible, share the truth about His Holy Trinity to others. Whenever there is confusion and misinformation, hopefully we ourselves can stand up for our faith, explaining briefly to dispel the misconception, perhaps by using the example of the ‘flame’, ‘honey’ or even St. Patrick’s three-leaf clover mentioned earlier.

Let us all renew our faith in the Lord, the Most Holy Trinity, in Whom we have been baptised, in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let us be thankful and be appreciative of the love of the Father, be inspired and strengthened by the obedience of the Son, and be encouraged and filled with zeal by the power of the Holy Spirit. May all of us be genuine and strong Christians, in all aspects of life, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.”

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Corinthians 13 : 11-13

Finally, brothers and sisters, be happy, strive to be perfect, have courage, be of one mind and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of Christ Jesus the Lord, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 3 : 52, 53, 54, 55, 56

Blessed are You, Lord, God of our fathers, be praised and exalted forever. Blessed is Your holy and glorious Name, celebrated and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the Temple of Your sacred glory, Your praises are sung forever.

Blessed are You on the throne of Your kingdom, honoured and glorified forever.

Blessed are You Who fathom the depths, Who are enthroned on the Cherubim, praised and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the firmament of heaven, praised and glorified forever.

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 34 : 4b-6, 8-9

Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai as YHVH had commanded, taking in his hands the two slabs of stone. And YHVH came down in a cloud and stood there with him, and Moses called on the Name of YHVH.

Then YHVH passed in front of him and cried out, “YHVH, YHVH is a God full of pity and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in truth and loving-kindness.”

Moses hastened to bow down to the ground and worshipped. He then said, “If You really look kindly on me, my Lord, please come and walk in our midst and even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our wickedness and our sin and make us Yours.”